Deaconess Foundation selects ‘Just for Kids’ Anchor Institutions

Cohort will build capacity to change policy for children

St. Louis, MO (December 11, 2017) – After an intensive seven-month process, Deaconess Foundation has chosen five organizations as multi-year partners to strengthen and ground systems change and community organizing efforts for child well-being in the St. Louis region. The Anchor Institution Program is part of Deaconess’ Just for Kids strategy to build a movement for children through public policy and racial equity.

The inaugural cohort of Just for Kids Anchor Institutions includes: American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri Foundation, ArchCity Defenders, Community Organizing and Family Issues, Metropolitan Congregations United and Missouri Health Care for All. The group reflects the Foundation’s assessment that deeper investment in grassroots organizing and impact litigation strategies will be necessary for positive change in a tough legislative environment for their policy priorities for the next few years. The Foundation’s four-pronged public policy agenda includes: justice and equity for youth, family economic mobility, access to comprehensive health care and increased investment in early childhood education.

“This was a difficult selection, but we’ve learned a lot about a remarkable set of finalists we hope to work with in news ways,” noted Rev. Starsky D. Wilson, Deaconess Foundation president and CEO. “We will need the power which comes from deeper relationships to build a community where the 640,000 children of this region are well and their futures are not predicated on race and zip code.”

Through the four-year engagement which begins in January, the Foundation will invest significant financial resources and consultative support to strengthen the organizations’ effectiveness and culture by enhancing their leadership, adaptive, technical and management capacities. In turn, the cohort will be better positioned to contribute to community efforts that build power, shift policy and influence the systems within which children develop and grow.

Deaconess Foundation invests in the well-being of children, engages our region around the plight of youth, and advocates for change. The Foundation envisions a community that values the health and well-being of all children and gives priority attention to the most vulnerable. Deaconess believes this community can only exist if the allocation of power and distribution of resources, benefits, opportunities and burdens are not predictable, nor determinable by race. To accomplish this vision, Deaconess pursues child well-being through public policy and racial equity.

A ministry of the United Church of Christ, Deaconess has invested more than $80 million to improve the health of the St. Louis community since 1998 and believes healthy, hope-filled futures for children benefit the entire region. The Foundation’s grantmaking footprint includes St. Louis, St. Louis, Jefferson, St. Charles and Franklin Counties in Missouri and Madison, St. Clair and Monroe Counties in Illinois.

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About American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Missouri Foundation

ACLU of Missouri Foundation defends civil liberties and the principles of equality and justice in Missouri through its litigation, legislative and public education programs. ACLU of Missouri focuses on legal and legislative advocacy, public education and communication.

About ArchCity Defenders

ArchCity Defenders is a 501(c)3 non-profit civil rights law firm providing holistic legal advocacy and combating the criminalization of poverty and state violence against poor people and people of color in St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles County and the state of Missouri. ArchCity Defenders focuses on impact litigation, holistic legal advocacy, policy and media advocacy.

About Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI)

Community Organizing and Family Issues develops and engages low-income parents of color as leaders in their families, schools and communities in East St, Louis and across the state of Illinois. COFI focuses on systems change advocacy, parent training and organizing.

About Metropolitan Congregations United (MCU)

Metropolitan Congregations United puts faith into action by developing leaders who move their congregations, organizations, and communities to change public policy for the common good.  MCU focuses on grassroots organizing, leadership development, issue campaigns, voter participation and engagement.

About Missouri Health Care for All

Missouri Health Care for All is a statewide, nonpartisan, faith and community-based grassroots movement for quality, affordable health care for all Missourians. Missouri Health Care for All focuses on policymaker engagement, coalition building, public education, grassroots organizing, and communications and storybanking.